The special mindfuck that the OW in my fWH's EA wasn't just anyone, but the one woman he had a crush on that started before we began dating. He was waiting in line to see if her relationship with the guy she was dated and then married would pan out. When she told him about the problems in her 1 year old marriage, his Plan A started to look like it might become a possibility. The only glitch in his plan was that he was marrying me at the same time. I will go to my grave with the firm belief that I was always his Plan B. He never pursued me - I pursued him and he just went along with it. He never told me how much I meant to him.
Looking back at his behavior towards OW, she was the one he really loved, even if it was a crush that would not have worked out. He was pretending it would and she was flattered by the puppy dogging behavior, encouraged it for the attention it gave her and she could give a rat's ass if his behavior was affecting me and our relationship. There were red flags when I look back. At the time, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Because she was experiencing some things that I hadn't, I thought he was showing me how he would behave in general to those situations if they came up in our lives. For example, OW was in a car accident and the jaws of life was used to removed her from the car. She was never at risk of dying - broken bones and bruises were the big things. She always took a lot of risks in all parts of life. Stupid risks. We went to college together, were in the same pledge class of a co-ed frat, and continued in a social circle after college and also got jobs at the same large premier local company. I knew about her, but I didn't consider her a good friend, just another friend in the social circle, all because of how she behaved - I didn't care to become close to her. Back to the accident. She admitted to being impatient to make a left across a lot of lanes of fast moving traffic and she took a chance pulling out in front of a group of cars. Well, that didn't work out too well. If it was anyone else in my fWH's life, including me, that did the same thing, he would have pulled out all the criticism he could about it being "the most stupid thing you could ever do - why do it - why take that chance - you're an idiot for doing it". Well, for her and her only, it was "poor OW, she got hurt, we need to go to the hospital and console her". He has never gone to the hospital to visit anyone else in his life, including coworkers, except for the 2 times I birthed his children and 2 times he took me to the ER and I was admitted due to health problems. He wasn't caring about those times for me. He was so caring and concerned about her. I was a burden to him.
Same when she told him at work about her recent miscarriage and general OB/GYN issues. He was sullen when he relayed that info in the evening after work. I had to endure 5-6 weeks of him putting her on a pedestal in the evenings. The great, wonderful stuff she was doing, the most interesting opinions she had, and woe is me, all the drama in her life (probably a lot of it made up or exaggerated for - I knew her). A few days later when I woke up for work with a high fever from a sinus infection and decided to take a sick day and told him, he said "so you're playing Stay-At-Home". I didn't expect him to quit his job and stay with me and act like the end of the world. He could have just said ok, hope you feel better. He could have said he'd try calling later to see how I was feeling. No, he made fun of me using a sick day that I had earned. I made just as much money as he did - it was enough to support a household on my own. Why the attitude? I can only surmise it was because it paled in comparison to a miscarriage and he need to make fun of me and put me down because he valued her and cared about her more than me. Why was she even talking to him about her OB/GYN issues? What did that have to do with his life?
Because of his Plan A woman drawing him into her life, to make himself feel better about his feelings for her, he needed to change his feelings and attitude towards me and become negative. I suddenly became a object called "the wife", that was only needed for housekeeping, a sizable paycheck, and as a sex partner. I needed to be controlling, nasty, disagreeable, and overall a bad match. Less than 2 months into the marriage, I recall an argument about something, but what stood out was him saying "you've been treating me this way for years". Years. We dated for 4 years. We didn't live together until after the wedding. We were 2 months into the marriage. We didn't have a "bun in the oven". There was no shotgun to his head. Years. It made no sense to me why he would say that. If he had been that pissed off for "years", why did he go through the marriage recently? Why didn't he bring up the issue in premarital counseling at the church? Why didn't he bring it up at any time during our dating? At the time, he remark also didn't match what was being discussed. It was like a random hatred comment thrown into the argument. It made no sense in the context of what was going on. He didn't talk about any specific treatment - just used it to try to shutdown the argument.
Also, the more I think about it, there was no fog. He simply changed his mind about me, his Plan B, because his Plan A started to pay individual attention to him, much more than she had in the past, and mentioned that her own marriage wasn't that great - he thought he might have a chance with her.
The wonderful, special mindfuck realization that she wasn't random - she was in his mind & heart before I was. I was the disposable one. I was the one he settled for when Plan A was taken by another guy.
All the criticisms over the years, not just to me in private, but "wife/female/me in particular" bashing to anyone who would listen. He got a kick out of making his conversations with other husbands be all about sarcasm & criticism. It was how he related to them and he tried to get them ragging on their wives. Most didn't like him for that. We were dropped from many couples. Now I keep friendships with just the wives/moms and don't get into trying to socialize as couples.
No bragging about me AT ANY TIME. She was put on a pedestal. She still can do no wrong. She was perfect. She was wonderful. To him, I became just a disappointment, someone to constantly criticize. I was in the official relationship with him and I threatened to leave. He had to stop seeing this wonderful woman he had a crush on, his Plan A needed to end. He was resentful and kept paying me back for having to settle for me.
But, finally, I had a breakdown this past year. Opened up the floodgates about his EA and took off my rings. I raged at him on and off for months, including texting him while he was at work and I was home trying to make sense of what I wanted to do. I ripped him and her and their EA apart via text, so that he couldn't dispute what was actually said. I've cried almost everyday for the past 8 months, now that I've let myself really see what happened and how he has continued to rub his dissatisfaction with having to settle for me in my face.
I think he finally got it recently. He got that it really messed up how I felt about him and about his continued behaviors. These are behaviors he first showed during the EA. He kept reminding me about the EA by falling back on the same coping behaviors when he has problems and is stressed. I had health problems come to a head last year because of the underlying stress. I told him I don't think I have another 30 years to give him. I may not even have another year with the health problems. I was so sick of being his wife and told him so.
He seems to have realized it hurt me really bad and has been affecting me all these years in how I viewed his behaviors, including his reactions to life events. For her I remember him going all out and caring. For me, his anxieties kick in and he can't be the same for me. I wish I had known this so much earlier. I completely misunderstood him. He was brave and caring and protective for her. I've yet to see that willingly, unprompted from him to me. It makes me sad. I don't feel I should tell him to be protective of me - if he doesn't feel it at the moment it is needed in a situation, I can't stand there and tell him how I expect him to act. It's just not there for me, Plan B. Now, he's viewed as a partner for sex, as a paycheck (since I'm now a SAHM), and for household chores (cars, yard, etc.). You reap what you sow. Maybe he can do better now. I'm waiting. It feels like I'm going through this situation for the first time, even though it was long ago. That's rugsweeping. I decided to pull the rug.
Of course, this is the bad stuff. We had good times through the years. But when it was bad, it usually circled back to the EA and the unresolved issues he has. I reached the end of my patience.